Chapter 187

The inland sea was wide.

The coastline was 20,000 miles long, and the total area of the sea was nearly half the size of the Aragon Empire. Two imperial duchies, four great territories, seven port cities, and three kingdoms were distributed around the inland sea.

There were more than 50 populated islands, and the race to claim hegemony over the huge sea had been ongoing since ancient times. However, the Arangis family always came out as the winner.

Even the Aragon Empire could not completely conquer the inland sea and had to recognize the Arangis family as an autonomous force. Thus, even after the founding of the empire, the Arangis family reigned over as monarch over the South and the inland sea, and very few forces challenged them over the past hundred years or so.

But now, Blyda Castle of Crete Island, the stronghold of the Arangis Duchy, was under immense tension for the first time in decades. Blyda was the holy city of the Arangis Duchy, and it existed long before the founding of the empire as the largest port city in the south.

The ancient, gray castle overlooked the huge city with a population of well over 100,000. The castle was home to dozens of nobles and nearly 300 royal guards. However, the atmosphere was as heavy and dark as the storm clouds that filled the far horizon of the sea behind the castle.

The palace seemed to be the origin of the gloomy atmosphere. Arigo Arangis, the heir to the Arangis Duchy, and the six lords that ruled over the duchy were gathered in the spacious hall. With Duke Arangis in seclusion for the past few years, Arigo Arangis was ruling on the duke’s behalf.

Heavy pressure filled the room, as if a large rock were weighing down.

“Is Toleo still in Latuan?”

Arigo Arangis had turned 34-years-old this year. He possessed both youth and experience, and he spoke with a voice full of concern. An advisor to the duchy, Manuel, bowed his head in response.

“By now, he should have headed out with the orcs.”

“Should have? Speak clearly, Manuel.”

Even though Manuel had spent decades as an advisor for his father, Arigo’s expression was fierce and his voice was cold.

Manuel replied hurriedly, feeling a cold sweat running behind his back.

“According to the last message, he must have headed to the strait this morning.”

“Hm…”

The six lords of Arangis looked around and met each others’ gazes with solemn expressions at Manuel’s response.

“How many did Toleo take?”

“Including the Blue Dragon, four sailboats, ten galley boats, and fifty sea griffons.”

“What about the number of troops?”

“O, one thousand six hundred.”

“1600?”

“Huh!”

Some lords even let out vain laughter.

But Arigo’s sharp gaze quickly shut their mouths. Even though it only amounted to about 10 percent of the Arangis family’s total force, four sailboats, ten galleys and 1,600 soldiers was a force that could rival some of the high lords. It was the first massive expedition since the insurrection of Bloody Harpoon, the self-claimed Pirate King.

Arigo overpowered the lords with just his gaze, then he turned his gaze towards one of them.

“Lord Palermo, where is the storm now?”

“Before I entered the city, it was nearing Rita Island. By now, Latuan is likely…”

The eyes of the lords grew darker at the words of Baron Palermo, who purposely blurred the end of his words.

“What do you all think the damage will amount to?”

“…..”

None of the lords could muster up an answer, only warily looking around. Arigo’s expression distorted horribly.

“Stop beating around the bush and ANSWER me!”

“Heup!”

The thundering words of Arigo Arangis caused the lords to cower in fear. He was someone that would become the Duke of Arangis within a few years and rule over hundreds of thousands of people and the entirety of the south.

One person finally lifted his head and stuttered.

“P, please excuse my words then… I believe it would have been fine if we were preparing for the storm in advance without sailing, but now that the young master has departed, I don’t know about the sailboats, but the galleys will surely…”

The lord could not bring himself to continue speaking and lowered his gaze. Arigo shot him a gaze full of burning anger, and the lord hurriedly continued.

“G, galley ships will surely be wiped out! I believe that all of our forces will be annihilated!”

In an instant, the entire palace became absolutely silent. The proud troops of the Arangis Duchy, who boasted no losses, would disappear without getting a chance to even fight properly – ten entire galley ships and 1,000 troops.

“…..”

Everyone maintained their silence with horrified expressions. Arigo sank into thought for a moment, then he opened his mouth.

“It was said to be the most powerful storm in the last 10 years, right? Then even the sailboats will not be guaranteed safety. Isn’t that right, Manuel?”

“Well, that’s right. If we think about the Black Devil from ten years ago…”

As Manuel brought up “Black Devil”, the lords and the nobles trembled silently. Black Devil was a massive storm that swept through Crete Island and the nearing areas for four days. It was given its name because it had caused the entire sky to turn jet black for four days and three nights, and it was said that even the color of the unending rain was black.

The damage caused by the Black Devil had been beyond description. Without the accumulated wealth and great influence of the duchy, the storm might have caused it to split into several pieces due to the unrest and rebellion.

And now, the storm that was moving north across the west coast of Crete was equivalent in scale to the Black Devil.

“Find a way to contact Toleo, whatever it takes. Send dozens of seabirds or griffons if you have to! Direct the troops to Latuan island right now!”

“Ye, yes!”

Manuel and the lords answered in one voice. But everyone knew, including Arigo and the answering lords. There were no griffons that could possibly fly through the powerful winds that blew outside. As if speaking of their fate, the winds continued to cry outside the palace like a howling ghost.

“Alan Pendragon…  Just as they say, he is truly blessed by the heavens. But perhaps that is what the sea desires… It is trying to put me, Arigo Arangis in your path… instead of Toleo…”

Arigo murmured in a low voice, then rose from his throne and turned around.

“But Pendragon… Keep in mind that the sea you are in is the sea of Arangis.”

Arigo looked up at huge murals depicting the legends of the former Dukes of Arangis fighting against dozens of sea monsters. His eyes were as cold as the winter sea.

***

Kwaaaaah!

Sharp, strong winds continued to blow. It was cold enough to penetrate through clothing and cut into the skin. The wind continuously violated the sky and the sea.

The waves seemed to directly reflect the wrath of the sea goddess, and it threatened to swallow up even the Blue Dragon, which was a huge, 230-foot-long vessel.

“Keeughh!”

Toleo Arangis frantically looked around the black sea as the strong wind and rain continuously battered the ship.

“Galleys! Where have the galleys gone!?”

Toleo’s desperate cries were buried in the thunder of the wind. A rope was wrapped around his waist in order to keep himself from being flung off the ship. He ran across the wobbling deck and grabbed a soldier on the ground by the collar.

“Send a signal to the other ships, you fucking idiot! Tell all the galley ships to retreat to the nearest island!”

“T, there’s no wa… Hwaagh!”

At that moment, the boat tilted sideways, and humongous waves the size of a fortress loomed over the Blue Dragon. The soldier’s face turned ghastly at the sight.

“Everyone, brace for i…!”

Fwaaaaahh!

The huge wave did not wait for him to finish, and the soldier was engulfed in an instant.

“Keuk!”

Toleo lost his balance at the powerful shock. It felt as if a boulder had rammed into his whole body. Instinctively, he tightened his grasp on the rope that was tied around his waist.

“Keugh….”

After a moment, Toleo’s eyes widened as he observed his surroundings. The dozens of soldiers who were fighting on the deck moments ago had all disappeared.

“What.. the fuck!!!”

Fwooosh!

The black gale that struck greedily swallowed Toleo’s screams.

***

“Captain, l, look over there.”

“I am watching.”

A middle-aged man with tied long, rich hair calmly answered with one eye on an elongated telescope. Unlike the other pirates around him, he was dressed like a noble. Moreover, he was equipped with a longsword on his waist similar to those used by the empire’s knights, and not a cutlass, the weapon of choice for pirates.

“This is problematic.”

“Captain! Shouldn’t we also quickly get off the waters? It doesn’t seem like a normal storm.”

One pirate spoke with a loud voice, and the others hurriedly nodded their heads with fearful expressions. Pirates, merchants, sailors, regardless of one’s identity, all seamen feared one thing the most. It wasn’t the Arangis Duchy nor was it the 7th regiment. They were afraid of the storms that visited once or twice a year.

However, the well-dressed man licked his fingers and raised it above his head. He replied while shaking his head.

“No, it will be fine. The wind is blowing northwest. Only the southwestern islands near Latuan Island will be affected.”

“Oh…!”

The pirates looked around with brighter expressions. Their captain was one of the best in the world when it came to reading the wind and the currents.

If he had not been caught up in the conspiracy of assassinating Crown Prince Shio, he might have been an outstanding naval knight of the imperial army, or even an admiral, a commander of the empire’s naval regiment.

“We will sail as planned. I will personally take the helm. We will head towards the starboard directly abeam.1

“Aye captain!”

The pirates started moving in perfect order with a loud answer. Their movements were very fast and accurate, similar to a well-trained army.

“On tack! On tack! We will head into jiving!1

The pirates became busy at the man’s roar, and the sail of the ship fluttered smoothly in a long, oval shape, then swelled to the other side.

“Very good! Now we will go towards the port deck!”

Fwooooosh!

The man was accurately reading the direction of the wind every minute and controlling the ship like an extension of his own body. The name of the sailboat was John Myers, named after the captain of the strongest pirates, the Winter Storm Pirates, and the man who was constantly encouraging the pirates was none other than John Myers, known as the High Lord of the Sea.

“The golden ship is right in front of us, my comrades! We will be taking over the ship of a duke that sucks up to the great and damned emperor!”

“Gwoooh!”

The pirates responded with a roar.

“Rogusa Rose to the starboard side! Keep the speed constant at 15 knots! Aster will follow behind!”

After becoming captain, John Myers had named all of the Winter Storm Pirates’ ships after flowers, with the exception of his original ship, the Ron Sapphire. At first, some pirates fiercely protested, but they had become accustomed to it after some time. The crew signalled the captain’s orders to the other vessels.

“We cannot fall behind Red Skull and Zagielka! Keep in mind that we are the rulers of the inland sea! Hahahahaha!”

Contrary to his giddy laughter, his eyes were gleaming with hostility towards the upcoming battle and an unknown ‘somebody’.

***

“My lord, it seems like it is about to start.”

The captain spoke in a tense voice. His eyes were glued to a telescope, and Raven stood next to him.

“I see. Well, captain, you just need to do as Lord Moraine instructed.”

“But the storm over there…”

The captain’s expression was extremely dark.

Even without a telescope, anyone could see the looming darkness in the skies of Latuan Island.

“There is nothing to be worried about. Trust me and proceed as planned.”

“Hm! All right, your excellency.”

He was the captain of the ship, even if it was owned by the young duke. Nevertheless, the captain bowed his head and obeyed the words of a man who knew nothing about sailing. Following the duke’s orders had worked out thus far, and more importantly, Viscount Moraine, who was a much better sailor than himself, also followed the duke’s words.

“Excuse me, then.”

The captain quickly headed to the second floor where the steering wheel was located.

“After the roping is finished, run!”

“Yes, captain!”

The sailors were quick to act. Having sailed alongside their captain for five years, they were accustomed to following his orders.

Whooooosh!

Soon, the ship advanced at a rapid pace under strong winds.

“Elkin! How are the preparations going?”

Raven asked as he observed the ocean with a telescope.

“I just need to get ten more ready. If you give the order, the ones that are already prepared can set off right away.”

“Good.”

Isla answered calmly, and Raven turned towards him. The entire deck was filled with numerous boxes the size of a small wagon. Contained within the boxes were…

Kieeeek! Kieek!

They were griffons of the Pendragon Duchy, ready to spread their wings at any time to charge into the air.

1 - TL note: Holy freaking crap, there are so many sailing terminologies in this chapter that I died trying to find out what they meant. To make things even more difficult, the author wrote ENGLISH terminologies for sailing in KOREAN, so like the opposite of writing “oppa” or “unni”, so I literally spent hours searching for the right spelling for right words and blah blah.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tack_(sailing)

https://www.discoverboating.com/resources/sailing-basics-10-nautical-sailing-terms-to-know#:~:text=Jibing%20%2D%20The%20opposite%20of%20tacking,a%20tack%20or%20a%20jibe.

Roping – adjusting the sails. Run – to sail with the wind coming from behind. Tack – the corner of the sail nearest the bottom and next to the mast. Jiving – a sailing vessel reaching downind turns its stern through the wind. Basically (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/49/Jibing.svg/300px-Jibing.svg.png),Port Deck – left side of the ship. Starboard – the right side of the ship

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